Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

2006 has been a year of great personal joy and trauma for me. So many events have happened to effect my perception of time and space. The delay in trying to process, that is to modify my life to fit certain preconceived notions of what is acceptable behavior has really drawn me so far apart from the person I am-- I feel the tendency to hibernate is the best option. I always have too many books or films on my plate to investigate anyway; at least that hasn't changed. My thoughts keep racing ahead, trying to construct lines, following a particular path that will lead me back to some kind of comfort, some kind of productive activity. Perhaps it is part of human nature to always return to certain fundamental ideas and work forward from them.

Expect better things in 2007 -- watch this space.

To all my friends and acquaintances:
I miss you when I'm not with you.

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

radio reminder

I will be on the air starting January 5, 2007, barring any unforseen events. Tonight enjoy Chris's last show of 2006.

My last playlist of 2006.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Children of Men - Dir: Alfonso Cuarón

Earlier today I read this exchange between Richard Posner and David Cole about contemporary interpretations of American civil liberties. Then, this evening, I saw The Children of Men. It is currently only playing in one theater in Boston right now but deserves a much larger audience. As J. Hoberman points out in his Village Voice review, the film does not deserve this fate. It says so much about our time that I am still trying to process it all. The film is gorgeous to look at as the screen is filled with cool blues, greys and greens. It maintains this serious mood throughout the film, with little time for jokes (it was funny noticing the former political cartoonist's work as being actually done by Steve Bell, who does cartoons for the Guardian UK newspaper). The audience sat in silence through most of it and actually applauded the film at the end. I haven't seen that happen in a commercial theatre in quite a while. So many aspects of the film recall -- not specifically other films (with the exception, possibly, of Barry Hinds "Threads") but actual news stories, recent events. This is probably why there is little advance notice of this film here. So many images recall political demonstrations in the Middle East and the tortures of Abu Ghraib or Gitmo. The story serves as a sharp reminder of what a society with sharp curbs on civil liberties looks like. [in progress]

Note: Time Out London's interview with the director is quite illuminating.

recent articles of note - large update {ICA BOSTON, Political Animals}

Christopher Hawthorn comments on Boston's new ICA. It is the first American building by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (who will be at the ICA in early January to discuss the project.)

The Guardian UK looks at the political meaning of animated films featuring animals. The silenceof Bao Ninh. Mark Morford on America losing another war. The CBC looks at 2006: the year in books.
The Washington Post on Inequality. Eric Schlosser in the New York Times wonders if politics have diluted the food supply. Grayson Perry was interviewed in the Independent UK.
A.S. Byatt reviews Toril Moi's new book on Ibsen.
Art Historian Robert Rosenblum passed away [NYT]
Martin Nodell, The Creator of the Green Lantern, Passed Away [CBC]
Nigel Kneale, British Science Fiction teleplay writer, Passed Away [Guardian UK]
Canada's Top Ten films of 2006.
Jonathan Rosenbaum's Top Ten films of 2006.
New Wonders from the Deep [CBC] - Marine Census 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten! Joyeux Noël!

Best wishes in this holiday season.

The Children of Men Dir: Alfonso Cuarón - advance notice

Details: 2006, UK/USA/Rest of the world, Drama/Adventure/Thriller/Sci-fi, cert 15, 114 mins, Dir: Alfonso Cuarón
With: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine
Summary: London, 2027. The last human child was born 18 years ago and amid a race war, humankind's survival depends on protecting a woman who has become miraculously pregnant. (source material: novel by P.D. James)

I've anticipated this film since I read Guardian UK film reviewer, Peter Bradshaw's comment on it back in early September. In the opening paragraphs he references Barry Hines' "Threads" and the 70s TV programme "Survivors" (not to mention Roy Andersson's "Songs of the Seventh Floor")-- two of the more frightening and realistic interpretations of a post-apocalyptic future. The look and the content of "The Children of Men" are certainly bracing enough, as a depiction of present fears of society. Phillip French, in his review goes on to recall Volker Schlondorff's vision of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", as scripted by Nobel laureate Harold Pinter. This can only be a good sign. I've been waiting for a film like this for quite a while. Something that will contextualize the direction Western society may go if current policies maintain. The only thing that's been out there apart from the many documentaries analyzing the problem, are torture films.

Official Sites: UK US

The US release date is December 25, 2006.

Wesley Morris wrote an excellent review in the Boston Globe.
J. Hoberman has thisto say.


Further reading on apocalyptic films should include the genius that is Kim Newman's book "Millenium Movies: End of the World Cinema".

22nd December 2006 - playlist - Happy Christmas Everyone.

Fri Dec 22nd 2006 7.00pm–10.00pm

Like everything else, times are approximate.

Swinging Buildings “praying for a cheaper christmas” from the ghosts of christmas past (Les Disques Du Crepuscule)
Pascal Comelade “Sequence 6” from Back to Schizo (1975-1983)
The Durutti Column “Silent Nite” from return of the sporadic recordings (Kooky)
Jay-jay Johanson “Breaking Glass” from THE LONG TERM PHYSICAL EFFECTS ARE NOT YET KNOWN (2006)
Paul Haig “Scottish Christmas” from Ghosts of Christmas Past
Matching Mole “Signed Curtain” from Matching Mole CD
John Foxx “the shadow of a woman's hand” from cathedral oceans III
The Pale Fountains “Benoit's Christmas”
Anne Laplantine “Keep Me Updated” from Nordheim
Cabaret Voltaire “Invocation” from Ghosts of Christmas Past
David Sylvian “A Fire In the Forest” from blemish
Marc Leclair “114e jour” from musique pour 3 femmes enceintes
Jay-jay Johanson “Time Will Show Me” from THE LONG TERM PHYSICAL EFFECTS ARE NOT YET KNOWN (2006)
Wim Mertens “As Hay In the Sun” from Jardin Clos CD
Yann Tiersen “Rue Des Cascades” CD ALBUM (Ici D'ailleurs)
Mika Vainio “night frost” from Kantamoinen CD ALBUM (Sahko)
Tuxedomoon “Weinachts rap” from ghosts of christmas past CD
Seigen Ono “Olive Tree (For Kosovo - dedicated to peace)” from SD- 2000 Songs CD ALBUM (Saidera)
Antena “noelle a hawai” from Antena EP (Les Disques Du Crepuscule
Arto Lindsay “My Mind is Going” from O Corpo Sutil
Jay-jay Johanson “Jay-Jay Johanson Again” from THE LONG TERM PHYSICAL EFFECTS ARE NOT YET KNOWN (2006)
Michael Nyman “cream or christians” from ghosts of christmas past
Hiroshi Fujiwara “Hard Boiled Dub” from In Dub Conference
Alpha “My Things” from My things
Philip Glass “secret agent”
Jay-jay Johanson “New Year's Eve” from THE LONG TERM PHYSICAL EFFECTS ARE NOT YET KNOWN (2006)
The Durutti Column “snowflakes” from the Ghosts of Christmas Past
Penguin Cafe Orchestra “air a danser” from preludes, airs & yodels
Laurie Anderson “the night flight from houston”
Moondog “bird's lament” from The Viking Of Sixth Avenue CD
Montgolfier Brothers “Journey's End” CD EP (Vespertine & Son)
Jay-jay Johanson “rocks in pockets” from THE LONG TERM PHYSICAL EFFECTS ARE NOT YET KNOWN (2006)
Mania D “Stille Nacht goes disco” from Ghosts of Christmas Past (Les Disques Du Crepuscule)
Brian Eno “How Many Worlds” from Another Day On Earth CD ALBUM (Rykodisc 2005)
The Village “childhood” from "the Village" (Elefant
Coldcut “Autumn Leaves” (BMG records (UK) 1993)
Francois De Roubaix “La Scoumoune” from Anthologie Vol. 1
BJ Nilsen “Gotland” from Touch 25
Tuxedomoon “You (Christmas Mix)” from Solve Et Coagula

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Jay-Jay Johanson - The Long Term Physical Effects Are Not Yet Known

Jay-Jay Johanson

1. She Doesn't Live Here Anymore
2. Time Will Show Me
3. Coffin
4. Rocks in Pockets
5. As Good As It Gets
6. Only For You
7. Jay-Jay Johanson Again
8. Breaking Glass
9. New Year's Eve
10. Tell Me When The Party's Over / Prequiem
11. Peculiar

The new work from Swedish crooner, Jay-Jay Johanson, is a welcome return to form. The premise here is loss and isolation. There is a rough aspect to all the songs that make this his most coherent album since Poison. This album is full of the fear and despair one feels in the absence of a loved one. Where Poison drew on elements of rock, electronica and hip-hop, the new album's closest references are jazz and movie soundtracks. Jay-Jay's new album has a very European-style cinematic feel, notions of Francois de Roubaix, Michel Legrand and Philippe Sarde's darker work are evoked. Jay-Jay was inspired to sing from listening to Chet Baker, then later the sound and success Portishead achieved provide two touchstones for his work.

The first song "She doesn't live here anymore", sets the tone for the rest of the album as it opens with the rhythmic sound of bells before a slow percussive march and John Barry-style bass guitar kicks in. The song chronicles a man's withdrawal and regression from society. It is breathtaking in its litany of despair. From this point on, a good part of the disc feels like the mental state of this man. "Time will show me" starts with a noisy Hammond organ sound before lapsing into a meditation on this period of separation. The next track "Coffin", one of the quieter songs, seems to take up the story from where the song "Escape" on the album Poison left off – he now contemplates digging a grave for himself as everything he does in life makes him feel worse. The mood changes slightly with "Rocks in Pockets". (rumored to be the next single) It is one of the more fully cinematic pieces. It starts with this bouncy, percussive beat and ominous strings which lay down a dense, atmospheric bed of sound, setting the scene for what is to come. Jay-Jay's voice rises above it all: 'Pack your bags – Keep it Quiet" – the first lines hang in the air and move on, barely having time to settle before the scene quickly shifts. This is a song of movement, it chronicles the thrill (and desire) of an escape. Most of the lyrics start with verbs, placing the motion of the journey on the ears of the listener. It is the story of two people who leave home on a mysterious mission. The song feels reminiscent of a dark thriller or possibly Alain Tanner's film "Messidor"—a destructive and desperate sense pervades the atmosphere. Following this, the mood turns light, and almost jazzy with "As Good As It Gets", perhaps the happiest song on the disc. It talks of memories of childhood, of being pushed from a great height and surviving. What could have ended in death becomes a recognition of life pushing one onwards. "Only For You" is quieter as its story gets darker, a person suppressing himself and his identity in order to prove his love. "Jay-Jay Johanson Again" is a wry tune about Jay-Jay's thoughts as he performs for the audience (it ends with the genius lines "look in my eyes, you'll recognize: Jay-Jay Johanson"). "Breaking Glass" (not a David Bowie cover) is another quieter track, that expresses the need to 'forget the past', musically it's interesting, he sings over a percussive beat formed by his own breath. "New Year's Eve" again talks of the absence and longing for a former love around that time of year, it is one of the saddest tracks I've heard on the subject. It is also perhaps the most real, as it address the loneliness many people commonly feel around that time. "Tell me when the party's over" is another quieter tune that slowly fades away into the brief coda that is "Prequiem"—a piece that ends with the sound of strings and helicopters. The final track on the album, "Peculiar", is almost like Jay-Jay Johanson does Tom Jobim, it has this odd bossa nova type quality to it. Jay-Jay sings about a girl called Peculiar—it's a funny little song and an irreverent ending to an album that is so moody.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

recent articles of note - large update

Alberto Manguel investigates libraries

Counterterrorism measures sometimes foiled in europe. A new German film fund has been set up. Christian-themed music sales are on the rise. The consequences of cultural imperialism as reported by Luis MartÍnez-FernÁndez may have little consequence at all. Canadian documentaries are suffering from their own kind of limitations. Emma Brockes interviews Turner Prize winner Tomma Abts. Anthony Lane gets into Disney's world. The Washington Post's recent expose on the Milk Lobby. Time Out New York's panel rates the critics.

Dirk Dirksen passed away – Los Angeles Times obituary

The Complaints Choir of Helsinki gives everyone something to sing about.

Remembrances - finding solid ground

O! Regret, O! Fantasy - I remember reading ghost stories with a loved one lying close to me. Its all in the past, will I ever escape such echoes at long last? The nearest memories are all about me. I try to be colder I try to impose less of myself here -- to mediate the emotion with some other form of expression, to keep it from decaying into pointless shouts and screaming. Its the holidays: I journey for marzipan-laden treats on warmer days, when I have time for a walk-- time to assess where I've been and where I'm going. I don't think I will ever entirely escape the past -- it will change, that is certain. My love is still there, suppressed, being pushed towards a different form, It won't die out. I spend my time reading most days, that or enjoying cinema or television programs on DVD from the UK or Canada. Anything that makes me smile is good at this point. My concerns, my ideas, my outlook will not go away. I felt such a strong bond with another in this past year, its hard for me to think about it all and what its become. Am I being intentionally obtuse, here? Perhaps. I'm not one to divulge everything, I've become trite enough already descussing my concerns. Still, it is good to write freely here in this arena. I doubt it is of much interest anyway. The other items that are posted here are the real attraction, the transmission of information about other cultural products. My own commentary and aggregation of thought is of little concern.

One last thing, my journeys home in the evening these past few weeks have been marked by the presence of various furry creatures. I saw an unusual animal as I departed Harvard Square once. At first I thought it was a cat coming out from under a parked car but it seemed considerably larger-- so I decided to follow it at that point to learn more. The animal, when it finally appeared in the evening light by the side of a building looked somewhat like a giant white rat with a similar tail and snout but was larger and furrier. I stood there and stared at it for a few minutes. I wanted to tell someone about it on my way home but didn't have anyone to phone. My guess is the unusually warm weather is responible for these occurences, either that or my imagination is really getting the best of me.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Das parfum by Patrick Süskind as directed by Tom Twyker

Coeli Carr from NYT reporting in IHT and also msnbc

I'm still not convinced it will make a good film. The story is compelling but seems inappropriate for the medium.

an edited extract from On Love and Death by Patrick Süskind appeared in the Guardian UK

a la lettre on the book (en francais) Leselust (auf Deutsch) and Wikipedia entry in English.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

on the air this Friday - WZBC - 1900-2200 EST

Expect to hear the old and the new, as well as seasonal treats:
"The Long Term Physical Effects are Not Yet Known" by Jay-Jay Johanson
"Ghosts of Christmas Past" - a Les Disques du Crepuscle compilation
and others...

Please listen.

radio - wzbc - "off the cuff" playlist from Nov. 17

This is the playlist from November 17, 2006.

John Foxx “kurfurstendamm” from Tiny Colour Movies CD ALBUM (Metamatic 2006)
Pan American “train station” from Personal Settings CD COMP (Quatermass)
Infantjoy “Composure (with ISAN)” from With (2006)
Mika Vainio “Winter Spirit” from Kantamoinen CD ALBUM (Sahko Recordings)
Chris Watson and BJ Nilsen “No Man's Land” from Storm CD ALBUM (Touch)
Epic 45 “August Passed Away Unnoticed” from Reckless Engineers
Jay-jay Johanson “Skeletal” from Whiskey CD ALBUM (BMG Sweden)
Jay-jay Johanson “I'm older now” from Whiskey CD ALBUM (BMG Sweden)
The Durutti Column “Snowflakes” from Lips that would kiss(FBN)
Infantjoy “Ghosts (With Populous)” from With (2006)
Harmonia “vamos companeros” from harmonia '76 CD ALBUM (Rykodisc)
July Skies “Countryside of 1938” from where the days go (make mine music)
Wally Van Middendorp “raving lunatic #1” from some of the interesting things you'll see on a long distance flight (Les Disques Du Crepuscule)
Richard Jobson “etiquette”
Richard Jobson “pavillion pole"
Francois De Roubaix from Anthologie Vol. 1 CD ALBUM (A-musik)
Bene Gesserit “kitchen music for kitchen people” from A High Happy Perverse and Cynical Cry of Joy (Insane Records)
The Montgolfier Brothers “une chanson du crepuscle” from seventeen stars (Vespertine)
Wim Mertens “Often a Bird” from Jardin Clos CD ALBUM (Les Disques Du Crepuscule)
Francois De Roubaix “Chapi Chapo” from Anthologie Vol. 1 CD
Felix Kubin “Psyko Billy” from Matki Wandalki (A Musik)
Felix Kubin “Hit me, provider” from Matki Wandalki (A Musik)
Steven Brown “la vie est belle” from composes pour le theatre et le cinema LP
Matching Mole “Signed Curtain” from Matching Mole CD ALBUM
Arthur Russell “See Through Love” from Another Thought CD ALBUM
David Kristian “Fragmaneted Skyway” from Sweet Bits CD ALBUM (monochrome)
Jay-jay Johanson “Only for You Remix” from She Doesn't Live Here Anymore(EMI Sweden)
Thomas Brinkmann “4” from rosa (Max Ernst)
Coti “Beben G.” from Lido/Lato CD ALBUM (Poeta Negra)
Janek Schaefer “between the two” from In the Last Hour CD ALBUM (Room 40)
Infantjoy “Without” from With (2006)
Mika Vainio “In Wind” from Kantamoinen CD ALBUM (Sahko)
Cluster “2” from Cluster '71 LP ALBUM (Sky 1983)
Chris Watson and BJ Nilsen “SIGWX” from Storm CD ALBUM (Touch)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Looking Back

The more I am isolated from others the more I feel the weight of my emotions. I don't want to refer to "Peeling Onions" or "The Onion Cellar" - as they've both been getting enough press -- but the concept is still the same looking back on one's past is a lot like peeling onions, there are many layers and as you get closer to the center, they make you cry. I've found a few years worth of old journals of mine from six years ago recently. It is funny what I said, in view of going through what I did at the time, and I wonder how long it will take. When will I stop treading over the same ground? Now, I lose myself in other stories, biographies, narrative fictions, the bliss of the creative mind. As the days go on, I miss so many people I have loved and lost.